Averse as he is to hyping apocalyptic hyperventilating by right-wing preachers, Terry Mattingly takes the MSM to task for ignoring the pre-election assertion by the Rev. Robert Jeffress that President Obama is preparing the way of the Antichrist. Here's what the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas had to say, as reported by the Christian Post last week.
"I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes," said Jeffress.
"President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist."
I would have been interested to have known WHY Jeffress made this statement, doctrinally, other than the usual serious social issues linked to the sanctity of human life and the decline of marriage in our culture. When people make this kind of statement, it helps to carefully quote them on some of the specifics, to provide context (or perhaps further outrage).
Actually, tmatt could easily enough have satisfied his interest by clicking over to First Baptist's Sermon and Worship Library web page and listening to the sermon, "America's Coming Storm," himself. Doctrinally, Jeffress is an old-time premillennial dispensationalist, given to scrutiniizing current events for signs of the End Times. And in the policies of the Obama Administration he finds them--viz., not only its support for abortion rights and same-sex marriage but also its opposition to the ministerial exception in the Hosanna-Tabor case and the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Jeffress went on to say it was "time for Christians to stand up and to push back against this evil that is overtaking our nation...via the ballot box"--which I'm inclined to think was not a recommendation to reelect the president. Nevertheless, it's worth contextualizing his remarks via the sermon he gave the Sunday after the election: "Hope...and No Change."
In it, Jeffress argues for the continued political engagement of premillennialists purely on the grounds that pushing off the time of the Antichrist for as long as possible enables Christians to have more time to do the work of evangelization. At the same time, he comforts his politically disappointed congregation by declaring that the light of the gospel shines brightest in the darkness.
Indeed, Jeffress rejects the sacralization of America that has established itself at the heart of the religious right over the past several decades. "There is no such thing as American exceptionalism when it comes to the standards of Almighty God, he says. "God no more favors America than any nation just because of who we are....There is no saving of America. We haven't been called to save America. We have as Christians been called as Christians to save Americans."
In today's Washington Post Jeffress has a column laying out a political way forward for evangelicals under the second dispensation of Barack Obama. It's to hew to the hard line on abortion and same-sex marriage but to be prepared to compromise on the rest of the GOP agenda: taxation, health care, environmental protection, and gun control.
If sadder but wiser evangelicals follow Jeffress' lead, we will find ourselves in a new political world come 2016.